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Going out in breaststroke by JD Lasica via Flickr

Rediscovering Myself in College

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Going out in breaststroke by JD Lasica via Flickr


In high school, middle school, and elementary school, I was a swimmer.  Obviously I was more than an athlete, but swimming was a big part of who I was.  It was how many others defined me, and in truth, it was a large part of how I defined myself.  I thought long and hard about swimming in college at a varsity level and began the recruiting process at a few NCAA Division I schools.  During my junior year of high school, however, I started questioning whether to pursue swimming in college.  I ultimately decided to apply early to Stanford, knowing that if I was accepted, I would give up the possibility of competing at the collegiate level.

After completing my last high school swim season in the spring, I hung up my cap and goggles. Or so I thought.  When I arrived on campus in the fall, I began to realize how much I missed swimming.  I was constantly asked, “Are you an athlete?” (swimmer shoulders don’t go away overnight), and always answered, “No, but I used to be.”  I did not know what else to say.  After a few weeks of this, I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I wondered if I had made the wrong decision, questioning my choice to go to Stanford instead of swimming at a different university.  My frequent trips to the gym weren’t cutting it, unable to help me de-stress like a workout in the pool.  As I looked for something that could replace swimming, I kept coming back to the Club Swimming flyer I had picked up on a whim at the Activities Fair.  I decided to go to a practice and see how it felt to get back in the pool.

Whoosh.  I dove in and began to warm up with the team.  Immediately, I felt so much better.  I continued to practice with Club Swimming for the rest of year, appreciating the fact that it is much more relaxed than the swimming environment I had been in for the previous decade.  Club Swimming has turned out to be the perfect fit for me; it allows me to keep swimming and make friends with people who I otherwise would not have met while giving me time to explore new things in college.  The experience has helped me realize that I probably wouldn’t have been happy at a different university on a varsity team, as it could have limited my ability to try other extracurricular activities.  While it took some time to adjust to the idea of not being an ultra-competitive swimmer, I’ve accepted my decision.  Now, when people ask me if I’m an athlete, I don’t feel disappointed in my answer, replying, “Not varsity, but I’m on the Club Swim Team, and it’s awesome.”

Selby Sturzenegger

Class of 2018

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